I read a very sad story tonight about a young and promising college athlete with type 1 diabetes who, like so many other people before him, quietly passed away in his sleep due to a low blood sugar. . It sneaks up, often without warning, those unpredictable nighttime lows. And without warning, if you’re not careful, they can sneak up and steal the most precious things on earth.. it doesn’t take long, and it comes without any noise or alarm. Just poof…….
My heart shattered into so many pieces while reading that story, the pieces could not ever possibly be counted… Because that is my main fear with my son. The highs and lows during the day we can handle; they are completely manageable.. While they are entirely infuriating and sometimes frustrating beyond belief, it is something that we can easily deal with. It’s the lows that sneak up at night.. that is where the terror lies.
After he’s given us his hundred hugs and said his million “I love you’s” and tucked himself into bed, that’s the scary part. Because when so many other children go to bed and peacefully slumber, only afraid of the monsters under their beds and in their dreams, diabetics are constantly in a battle with their own kind of nighttime monsters. And it is the parents of these humans that fight their own variation of these monsters. My son is still too young to fully manage himself; one day, it will be in his hands (I will always remain in the background… whether he likes it or not!) So, for the time being, it is on my shoulders to keep him on this earth, and as healthy as possible, and for as long as possible.
I haven’t slept through the night in months. I get my son to check himself when he goes to bed, then I check him when I go to bed a couple hours later, then I get up every single night at 3 am and check him again. I should be exhausted, I should feel drained beyond measure. But when it comes right down to it, that is my baby’s life there, and I am not willing to sacrifice it for 15 extra minutes of sleep. I jump out of bed and happily/groggily check his tiny little finger, only lit by the hall light, and he sleeps right through it. He sleeps through a sharp object blowing a hole into his delicate finger skin, me squeezing a drop of blood out, wiping it off, and squeezing another, and the incessant beeping of his glucose monitor. Then, once I have his reading, I either tuck him in and slunk back to bed, or rip to the fridge to grab his emergency juice (also known as his big brothers regular juice boxes… ah, the simple life) He even sleeps through me ramming straws into his mouth and forcing him to drink enough juice to bring him out of his lows (of which require me to recheck his finger every 15 minutes until he is back to an acceptable reading.. which means, I have to keep blowing holes and squeezing blood until he is back to a good level)
I’ve read stories of mothers who haven’t slept through the night in 20 years because of their Type 1 children. And that is absolutely going to be me. If there was ever a question before that I was going to be an overbearing mother and one of the ones who are still a constant in their children’s lives when they’re older, I have no doubt in my mind that I’m going to be now. Sorry future girlfriends, after everything I’ve been through with him, you’re just going to have to put up with me!
He is 10. He has a lot of years left ahead of him. And if it means I lose sleep for the foreseeable future, so be it; it means he wakes up every morning. If it means my cell phone bill is more every month, just so he can text me his levels, so be it; it means I know he is safe, and I always get a ton of “i love you” texts, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If my grocery bill goes up so he can have the best possible foods for him, and always be prepared, so be it; it means he has the best shot at being completely healthy and happy.